Mornay Schoeman: Educator, transformational coach, and dog lover
Mornay Schoeman has set out an action plan for her work and personal life and judging by her task-oriented demeanor she is going to get there, quickly, and probably in first place. She started out in a small town in South Africa, but has her sights set on returning to Dubai one day to conquer the job market there.
Let there be light!
When interviewing Mornay we were lucky enough to get it all down before being interrupted by the pesky load shedding that is plaguing South Africans right now. She is taking that in her stride as she refuses to be kept in the dark when it comes to life and her busy career. In fact, keeping the light analogy going, she is lighting up the South African education industry right now and has been doing so for over a decade. From relatively humble beginnings as a lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology, Mornay has risen through the ranks in the education industry and now enjoys the lofty title of Chief Strategy Implementation Officer (CSIO) at Inscape. As the CSIO, her job involves ensuring the company’s strategy is integrated into each departments goals, planning, and decision making to achieve strategic objectives. In her own words she says of her job description and duties, “Basically, I check that what everyone does aligns to what we as a collective need to be doing to achieve targets and align our departmental aims towards reaching a circular economy business, driving change management and initiating agile strategic planning and implementation. Our institute aligns with ESG, (Environmental, Social, and Governance), along with aligning with select SDG’s, (Sustainable Development Goals). Checking that our Circular Economy approach to the business is defined and integrated in each department.”
Education begets education
It is fairly obvious that someone who is in education would place a premium on education and the power that it has to transform people’s lives in business. Mornay grew up and attended school in Grahamstown, a town that is probably most famous for its local higher education institution, Rhodes University. She could have easily walked through its doors and wondered its hallowed halls, but Mornay knew that her passion was in design and that meant uprooting and travelling to Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, to study design at the University of Technology. It was a very exciting time for Mornay, and a period of growth as she tells us that in her second year she was tutoring first year students, in her third-year she was tutoring second and first year students, and in her fourth year was lecturing full time. Proof once again that if you have the look of success in your eyes and a high degree of passion in your belly, you can accomplish just about anything. Of her incredible time at the University of Technology Mornay says, “It was a fun, but challenging time in my young career. I lectured the tough technical subjects, like technical drawing, environmental design, model building, etc. Lecturing soon became my passion and I have never looked back as at last count I realized that I have been lecturing for 30 years now. How time flies and I believe all of this also contributed to my transformational coaching type of leadership style I use to successfully manage my teams.”
You can’t keep a good woman down!
Leaving the University of Technology, Mornay started lecturing at Inscape, a higher education institution that she has worked at for over 18 years. Talk about loyalty! Getting to know Mornay well you soon come to realize that she was never going to be just your average employee. She wanted more than that. So, within 18 months she progressed to opening and managing the Cape Town campus (where she lived for 14 years), to opening the Durban campus before handing it over to her team to manage. As one that was never afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty, Mornay realized that as Inscape began to grow, what it was lacking was structure, training plans, policy, and more. So with zero experience, she started an HR department off just a single spreadsheet with 66 staff members on it, progressing that to an integrated automated structure of systems with 200+ staff on it. Having achieved pretty much all that she wanted on South African soil, it was time for change, so Mornay spread her wings and landed in Dubai. Using her extensive knowledge and experience in higher education, she opened an Inscape campus there and grew it till Covid forced operations online in 2020. Sadly, the pandemic meant that Mornay had to close the campus and climb back on a plane bound for South Africa where she joined the Pretoria operation as operations and distance manager, which then transformed into Chief Strategy Officer soon after that. Of her time so far at Inscape Mornay reflects with much joy saying, “Over my 18 fun and exciting years, I have learnt so much, and discovered that I was good at ‘start-ups’, creating departments where there were none, and growing and reviving campus and business units to quickly move them in a positive direction.”
Choosing Nexford University was definitely an educated decision!
Having worked in higher learning for decades, it was quite obvious that Mornay would not be choosing to take her MBA at just any run of the mill higher learning institution. She is much more astute than that, so she did her homework and came upon a social media advert that made her sit up and take notice. Of course it was for Nexford, and knowing what to look for she downloaded the ‘Prospectus’ and began reading it with relish. Mornay says that she was looking for an MBA program that matched her needs, fitted in around her busy work schedule, was comprehensive, and cost-effective.
Her choice was not made on a whim though as she told us, “I really did a ton of research on local and international MBA programmes, from traditional programs, to fast track MBA’s, and everything in between. I spent six months researching, emailing, making phone calls, and reading a lot of information leaflets. It all came down to a choice between a Dutch university and Nexford. Nexford stood out for me in that they offered a modular approach to knowledge transfer in specific areas of expertize, integrated business practice and monthly payments. The structure of the module was also fantastic in that I could see that it would allow me to plan my activities around my submission, and speed that up if I chose to do so.”
Putting knowledge into practice
Of course because Nexford prides itself on prioritizing skills based learning over the theory based model used at most traditional universities, Mornay has been able to put what she is learning even at this early stage of her MBA into practice in her role at Inscape. She remarks, “I have learnt so much, as well as really grounded my conscious competence. So even If I knew something, the course work and my subsequent project submission confirmed my knowledge. I have used something from each module I have done so far and introduced that to my team in one way or another. From understanding leadership styles and team management, to ethic decision trees, even the difficult stuff, like economics and statistics in terms of the need for probability reports, and so much more! My approach to the business has changed dramatically and my CEO has mentioned this to me on numerous occasions.
Of course with a work schedule as hectic as hers, procuring that knowledge could have posed its problems for Mornay, but due to the flexible way of learning at Nexford, she could learn and earn at the same time. And because she is a very organized person, Mornay found learning easy at Nexford. Of her busy schedule she tells us, “I am an early morning person, so I am up at 4am, and at work by 5am. I then leave any time from 5 – 6pm. I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I also love what I do, so that helps. After work I usually head to Starbucks (the lights never go out, as we now have to deal with loadshedding, and because I live on a farm with no WIFI, that really helps!). I spend most Saturday and Sunday afternoons working on my MBA and I make sure I spend every day reading up about one of the topics we are covering or going over the course work for the day.”
Life is not just all about studying
Although she clearly has a great work ethic, Mornay does realize that she can’t have her nose in case studies and modules all the time. So when she does take a break from learning, she occupies her time concentrating on her hobbies that include her side hustle of designing clothing for plus size ladies, which she sells in Johannesburg and Cape Town. When she is not turning her hand to that, Mornay tells us that she likes cooking, swimming, growing food in her green house and watching the odd movie. Being a bit of a spiritual person, her interests also include the study of Buddhism, meditation, and working on her life path.
Furthermore, Mornay lives on a game farm, and has a huge garden and a pool to keep clean. That is a serious job, so it’s safe to say she has her hands full, although she says that she still enjoys a very healthy work-life integration. That said, Mornay hints that she has not totally taken her foot off the peddle and says that her study path is not done just yet. She tells us that she definitely plans to specialise her MBA and carry on to a PHD level. She says that she honestly believes that studying is a lifelong process, whether for a qualification or even just to have the skills you need to grow in your career and as a person. Learning propels you forward regardless. Being propelled forwards seems to include going back to work in Dubai again in the not too distant future. Mornay comments with stars in her eyes when she says, “I am definitely looking to make a move out of South Africa. I worked in Dubai for 3 years and would love to go back there. The United Arab Emirates is a very progressive developing country ready for entrepreneurship, creativity, and doing things differently. I certainly want to be a part of that.” She also tells us that if she goes to Dubai, she plans to take her clothing side hustle along. Why not? She is unmarried and has no children so it stands to reason that Mornay can just uproot and leave the country of her birth, bound for distant shores.
Nothing is impossible if you dream big
There is a quote that says, “If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you'll be a winner.” Wise words and ones that really sum up Mornay and her outlook on life. But she is quick to point out that what has kept her going is the inspiration that she draws from the tenacity and passion of people. She looks straight into the camera with purpose and says, “I have a business coach Rob who inspires me, he has coached me to see the world differently, how I can change, and grow beyond even my wildest imagination. Rob has taught me that the world needs more problem solvers, people who understand that cultural, social, and critical thinkers are what the world needs now more than ever.” In closing Mornay says that her mantra is ‘know more today than you did yesterday, and plan to know more tomorrow.’ That and to always remember that Designers will save the world. Spoken of course like a true designer. We wish Mornay all of the success in the world and hope to get a postcard from Dubai in the not too distant future. Seeing is believing, so check out Mornay's video below or on YouTube.
Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.
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